Wisconsin remained at No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings when the poll was released Tuesday night on ESPN.
The Badgers defeated Michigan 24-10 on Saturday behind another strong defensive performance and some clutch throws by quarterback Alex Hornibrook. UW’s off to an 11-0 start for the first time in school history. With two more wins — against Minnesota on Saturday and Ohio State in next week’s Big Ten championship game — the Badgers would likely move into the top four and earn a playoff spot.
Miami made a small but potentially significant move up to No. 2 behind Alabama, with Clemson slipping one spot to three and Oklahoma holding at four. Wisconsin and Auburn remained next up behind the top four in a week when the top half of the committee’s rankings were mostly unchanged.
Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Southern California followed in the same order as they did last week. Over the next two weeks, every team in the top nine will play another team ranked in the committee’s top 25, including four games matching top playoff contenders.
The Crimson Tide will play at Auburn on Saturday to decide a spot in the SEC championship on Dec. 2. The winner plays Georgia.
The ACC championship will match Clemson and Miami on Dec. 2, and Wisconsin and Ohio State play in the Big Ten championship.
Miami’s move comes after rallying to beat Virginia last Saturday. Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said Miami is showing characteristics of a championship team.
“When you get down the way Miami did to Virginia two times, once in each half, and you have the poise and the ability to come back and win in a convincing manner, that is special,” said Hocutt, the Texas Tech athletic director.
The Hurricanes (10-0) play at Pitt on Friday and now seem better positioned to get into the playoff even with a loss to Clemson, depending on how things play out in other conferences.
On championship Saturday, the selection committee gathers at the Dallas-area resort hotel where it holds its weekly meeting to watch games together. When the games are done, Hocutt and his crew of 12 experts dig into the results and put together their final, and only truly meaningful, top 25.
Will it be a late night at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine or will the committee members be able to uncork a bottle of wine during the second half of the ACC title game? A lot depends on Alabama.
The Crimson Tide could essentially eliminate two other playoff contenders in Auburn and Georgia. The Tigers have no shot if they don’t win the Iron Bowl and the SEC title. Georgia at 11-2 with a loss in the conference title game could still have a flicker of hope to be the second SEC team in the playoff, but would need a lot of help.The SEC champion is pretty much a lock to get in. But what to do with Alabama at 11-1 or 12-1?
The committee is not thrilled with the Badgers’ schedule, but Wisconsin can get a marquee victory in the Big Ten title game — as long as Ohio State takes care of Michigan on Saturday. At 13-0 and with a conference championship, the committee can replace the ACC championship loser with Wisconsin in the top four.
Wisconsin can also eliminate Ohio State and its 31-point loss to Iowa. A Wisconsin loss to Ohio State — or Oklahoma losing to TCU in the Big 12 title game — opens to the door to consideration of two-loss teams that could bring Notre Dame and USC back into the discussion.